No More Sleepless Nights for Honours Graduate!

No More Sleepless Nights for Honours Graduate!
School of Education staff member Ms Nontuthuzelo Mkhize, graduates with a Bachelor of Education Honours degree.

‘I feel so much better now all those sleepless nights are in the past. I also feel empowered as a woman in a democratic South Africa.’ 

So said Ms Nontuthuzelo Mkhize, a staff member in the School of Education, after graduating with a Bachelor of Education Honours degree. 

Mkhize’s research explored learners’ experiences of reading and critically reflecting on the challenges second language learners experience in reading and comprehending. 

‘The aim of my research is to find a way to help learners make meaning of the texts they are presented with every day in school. The project is expected to provide a better understanding of learners’ experiences of reading in Business Studies classrooms. 

The findings from her research indicates that most Business Management learners who are English first additional language learners are disadvantaged because they become accustomed to learning in their mother tongue and are forced to switch to a second language only in intermediate phase. 

This, Mkhize believes, will make it difficult for learners to comprehend English textbooks at that level of competence. ‘It is then important that a special committee saddled with the job of providing sound language foundation to second language learners is set up.’ 

‘I believe it will help any second language learner engage with their reading experience and cope with possible challenges, especially when everyone gets involved, from the language teacher, other teachers irrespective of the subject, the School Governing Body and parents,’ said Mkhize. 

Speaking about her support system during her studies, she said: ‘My family, especially my husband, were so supportive as were my friends. They encouraged me offering moral support. 

‘It was not easy but my faith in God and the love I got from my family kept the balance. I dedicate this work to my family especially my husband, my daughters and my siblings who made my academic journey bearable and meaningful. I love them all.’ 

Mkhize, who plans to do a master’s degree, advised other students to work hard and aim for success. 

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Education Lecturer Explores Curriculum Intellectualisation in PhD Study

Education Lecturer Explores Curriculum Intellectualisation in PhD Study
Dr Pryah Mahabeer, a Lecturer at the School of Education, graduates with a PhD in Education.

Dr Pryah Mahabeer, a lecturer from the School of Education, graduated with her PhD in Education for her research that explored the identities, experiences and imaginings of curriculum decision-makers engaged in the construction processes of numerous teacher education frameworks. 

The way decision-makers conceptualise and intellectualise curriculum issues has the potential to transform the way curriculum decision-makers deliberate, reason and act. This thesis was the first in South Africa to explore curriculum through the lens of currere as conceptualised by Pinar over more than a decade ago. 

‘Over two decades into democracy in South Africa, stakeholders are still voicing disappointment with the quality of graduates and the advancing of the curriculum - both in education and teacher education that are strongly inter-linked.’ 

‘The demand for change has resulted in the introduction of various teacher education policies. The curriculum and the developing of the curriculum, mainly at national level has often been criticised for being politically reactive, pokerfaced, incoherent and not relevant within Higher Education in South Africa,’ explained Mahabeer. 

Despite the move towards decentralisation and a shift to an egalitarian, all-inclusive approach to curriculum decision-making and development processes, her study recognised that the curriculum process is very complicated and requires creating a co-operative community of practice of utmost professionalism through vigorous conversation and debate. 

The findings of Mahabeer’s study suggest that curriculum decision-makers are caught at the intersection of countless webs of influence. These webs are described as a confluence of ideas and biographies that lie at the core and drives their thinking - the web of transformational agendas, the web of institutional allegiance, the web of agency, the web of dialogical engagement, and the visionary web. Manifested as an ecological web of curriculum intellectualisation that defined the kinds of thinking acknowledging curricula within the dialogical process.  

Mahabeer, who entered the University at a time of institutional transformation and development, was part of the Leadership and Equity Advancement Programme (LEAP) supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York aimed at promoting Black women academics within academia in South Africa.  

She dedicates this achievement to her late mother and father; she also thanked her supervisors, family, colleagues and friends, and the Carnegie Foundation for their support during the course of her PhD study. 

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Education Student Graduates Summa Cum Laude for Self-Study on Teacher/Learner Relationships

Education Student Graduates <em>Summa Cum Laude</em> for Self-Study on Teacher/Learner Relationships
Grade 1 Teacher, Nontuthuko Phewa, who graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s degree in Education.

Grade 1 teacher Ms Nontuthuko Phewa graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s degree in Education for her research on supportive relationships between teachers and learners. 

Explaining the reason for her study, Phewa said: ‘Most learners at the school where I teach come from the surrounding area with the majority being from low socio-economic backgrounds where either one or both parents are unemployed. 

‘Some are from child-headed households as their parents have passed on or work far from home.

‘Circumstances such as these can result in learners being faced with a range of social challenges. These children need support and teachers can play a significant role in ensuring this happens both emotionally and socially.’ 

With this in mind, Phewa wanted to better understand and evaluate her relationships with her Grade 1 learners and improve her teaching practice by cultivating supportive relationships with them. She believed this would create a conducive, warm and comfortable atmosphere for learners leading to an improved teaching and learning environment. 

‘Adopting a sociocultural theoretical perspective on teaching and learning helped me to understand that learning is culturally and socially constructed. This means it is important to pay attention to learners’ social and cultural backgrounds and circumstance, so that I can draw on what they already know to stimulate their thinking and learning and to offer them appropriate support.’ 

From her self-study research, Phewa discovered that learners should be the centre of learning and that it’s important for teachers to consider carefully any social-emotional factors that might inhibit teaching and learning. 

‘Learners need to feel close to us teachers. This means they need to be sure they can trust and rely on us to listen to them and take them seriously.  Hence, a key part of teacher self-development is to be able to give yourself time to constantly learn about your learners’ needs and concerns and to make changes in response to those needs and concerns that will improve teaching and learning,’ she said. 

Phewa’s examiners say her research is vital and is an under-researched area for teacher development studies. One of them stated: ‘This topic is one that is often taken for granted. There have not been many studies which have examined how teachers might learn more about their relationships with learners and how they might improve these. It is both a privilege and a pleasure to have read the work of Nontuthuko Phewa as it is well-written, carefully crafted and full of insightful wisdom regarding the care and teaching of young children.’ 

Her supervisor, Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan added: ‘Ms Phewa has been a most rewarding student to work with because of her eagerness to learn and to improve her research capacity and teaching practice for the benefit of young children in her care.’ 

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

From Rural KwaNyuswa to Bachelor of Education Graduate

From Rural KwaNyuswa to Bachelor of Education Graduate
Ms Noxolo Mtiyane graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Education degree.

In the heart of the Valley of a Thousand Hills outside Durban, lies the small rural village of KwaNyuswa where Ms Noxolo Mtiyane grew up. 

Rurality has its advantages but also disadvantages sometimes because of the shortage of opportunities for advancement. However, Mtiyane refused to get discouraged and rose up above the limitations rural life often imposes, working hard to ensure she was always top of her class! 

And now Mtiyane is a Bachelor of Education graduate, with UKZN awarding her the degree cum laude

‘It is such a great feeling to graduate and to make my family proud,’ she said. ‘This degree is a testament to all my hard work and the sacrifices my mother made for me to be able to study, to become a teacher and to help my family.’ 

Mtiyane was raised by her single mother, a domestic worker in Gillitts who she still lives alongside her sister, 10 aunts and siblings. Most of the adults at home are unemployed. 

When the domestic work got too much for her mother, Mtiyane would go along to assist. The meagre salary earned by her mother helped provide for Mtiyane’s primary school education at Botha’s Hill Primary School and then at KwaNtebeni Comprehensive High School at KwaNyuswa. 

Through the Department of Education’s Funza Lushaka bursary scheme, Mtiyane enrolled for her Bachelor of Education degree at UKZN’s Edgewood campus in 2013. 

During the four years of study, Mtiyane obtained several distinctions, two Dean’s Commendations and 11 Certificates of Merit, two of which were in Teaching Practice. Her majors were Education Studies, Travel and Tourism Education and isiZulu Mother Tongue. 

Her lecturer Professor Thabisile Buthelezi said: ‘Noxolo is a bright student. I taught her in her final year modules of isiZulu Mother Tongue 410 and 420. I was impressed by her work. In one of her assignments for the traditional literature section, Noxolo showed her analytical skills by using a folk narrative that was told at home by their grandmother, titled Inkosana Eyayingathathi (The Unmarried Prince). 

‘In her analysis, Noxolo drew from the folk narrative to show a theme of respect from different perspectives - such as respect for adults and senior citizens, self-respect, respect for people from across social classes and the language of respect. Her argument was that the lack of this value of respect in a person is self-destructive. Noxolo is a dedicated student and she deserves to graduate cum laude.’ 

Mtiyane advised other students to work hard, have self-belief and to reach their goals. She thanked her mother, family, friends, lecturers and the Department of Education for their support.

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Education Graduate Examines Advertising Culture in Business Studies Textbooks

Education Graduate Examines Advertising Culture in Business Studies Textbooks
School of Education staff member Mrs Bongekile Mnguni graduates with her Bachelor of Education Honours degree.

Mrs Bongekile Mnguni, a staff member in the School of Education, recently graduated with her Bachelor of Education Honours degree for her research that examined how the cultural representation of the discourse on advertising within a prescribed Business Studies textbook is represented and why is it represented in that selected way. ‘I am proud to obtain this degree and it means bigger things are still to come.’ 

Her study further explored the relationship between the language used in the text and the use of power and dominance by the authors and publishers of the text. The focus of this study is on the words written within the business textbook to see what the discourse is saying from an advertising cultural perspective and who is the discourse benefiting. 

Mnguni’s findings within the prescribed textbook reveals that the free market could be perceived by pre-service students as a system of choice. ‘Several scholars argue that advertising, as one of the defining institutions of the capitalist culture, convinces us to want things we otherwise would not desire and as such, advertising threatens personal autonomy,’ she explained. 

Regarding knowledge gained, Mnguni believes that studies of this kind should be explored, as it does not only assist students but society. ‘Critical discourse analysis which aims to help the analyst or a reader to understand social problems that are mediated by mainstream ideology is relevant to all social classes and this should be introduced to students as a means of emancipation and as a social justice cause.’ 

Mnguni, who is currently pursuing her Masters in Education, advised other students to work hard and persevere. 

Talking about her support system, she said, ‘It is always encouraging to know that you have the support from your family and friends. Their words of support and encouragement made me continue even when I felt like giving up. To my Line Manager Mr Themba Mbongwe, thank you for supporting me and allowing me to attend my lectures, to my supervisor for believing in me and to UKZN for affording me the opportunity to further my studies. All praise be to God.’

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Graduate Explores Assessment Strategies for English Second Language Speakers at University

Graduate Explores Assessment Strategies for English Second Language Speakers at University
School of Education staff member Ms Tyzer Khumalo graduates with a Bachelor of Education Honours degree.

My decision to enrol for an Honours in Education degree was to challenge and empower myself. Having done that, I feel I can now take on a bigger project, says School of Education staff member, Ms Tyzer Khumalo, who graduated from UKZN. 

Khumalo’s research explored assessment strategies used in assessing English second language speakers at university. 

‘When people read my research, they will get to understand the three different strategies of the assessment and their benefits. They will also understand that assessment is meant to educate not judge - it is designed to accommodate different learning styles and the University is aware of the issues which may affect students where assessment is concerned,’ she said. 

The findings of her study indicated that participants used a combination of formative assessment for learning, summative assessment of learning and peer assessment as learning strategies in their teaching. 

‘They believe that assessment is a major part of learning that motivates learners to work hard in order to develop knowledge and skills to do well in their studies. As a result, this study recommends that the three types of assessment strategies should be treated equally in any lesson because each one of them is important in learning,’ said Khumalo. 

A highlight of her study was going into the field during the data generation period. ‘The feeling of being a researcher and engaging with people about their lived experiences, perspectives and understandings of their own practice, was humbling.’ 

Striking a balance between her personal life, work and family was not easy, but it was possible for Khumalo as she received immense emotional support from her family, friends and her fiancé. 

‘My family’s love and support towards my career is humbling. I thank God for my friends, my supervisor Dr S.B Khoza, my daughter Sibusisiwe Khumalo, and my nephew, Fanele Khumalo, for never failing to see potential in me. There is a God in Heaven. He was my pillar of strength through the journey.’ 

Khumalo’s plans include pursuing her Master’s degree in Education.

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Women School Principals in KZN Face Increasing Challenges Because of their Gender – Research Finding

Women School Principals in KZN Face Increasing Challenges Because of their Gender – Research Finding
Mr Sihle Ngidi graduates with a Bachelor of Education Honours degree from UKZN.

KwaZulu-Natal school principals who are women are often challenged because of their gender. 

This is according to research conducted by Mr Sihle Ngidi, who graduated with a Bachelor of Education Honours degree cum laude 

Ngidi is the first in his family to enrol and graduate from university. 

‘I come from a poor background, raised by grandparents who were unemployed,’ he said. ‘We relied on their pension to survive and there were many of us. On certain days, we would go to sleep with empty stomachs - this is what motivated me to study hard and beat poverty.’ 

‘No-one believed I could be a university student, let alone get a postgraduate degree with flying colours. I struggled a lot during my undergraduate years and at one point, I was convinced I would never finish. However, here I am today…graduating,’ said Ngidi. 

His research examined leadership that works in a deprived school context with a primary focus on principals. ‘I chose this research topic as there is very little that is known about the subject and if more research can be done on this, there is a possibility of getting some solutions to problems engulfing our education system.’ 

His research findings show that women who are principals faced increased challenges because of their gender. ‘This has to do with culture and a refusal of some males to accept them as their leaders. However, women principals seem to have a better chance of being effective principals because of their nurturing and caring personalities.  

‘Resources are important for the effectiveness of the school but so is leadership. Principals who succeed in a deprived context go beyond the call of duty in their leadership,’ said Ngidi.

Ngidi believes his research will assist school principals to improve their practice. ‘It is particularly useful for principals who are leading in contexts laden with deprivations and challenges. It can also be useful to the Department of Education in the process of recruiting principals suitable for deprived schools.’ 

Ngidi thanked his family and friends. ‘I thank them for the emotional support and for allowing me to be away from them most of the time. I [would] also like to thank my supervisor, Dr Phumlani Myende, for his special motivation and support - without him I would have given up a long time ago.’ 

‘This is not the end, it is just the beginning. I am currently reading for my Masters in Education and then I hope to enrol for a PhD. My dream is to become a lecturer at UKZN. I am also looking forward to being a publishing scholar who writes books that will assist in bettering our education.’ 

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Quality School Education at the Centre of Honours Research

Quality School Education at the Centre of Honours Research
Ms Faathima Desai graduates summa cum laude with an Honours degree in Education.

The search for quality school education was at the heart of research done by high school teacher Ms Faathima Desai who graduated  with an Honours degree in Education summa cum laude

‘I am ecstatic and relieved,’ said Desai. ‘All the stressful days, late nights and hard work have finally paid off.  Most importantly, I am grateful to the Almighty for blessing me with such success.’ 

Desai believes that teachers need to be flexible and adaptable to meet the changing needs of learners in classrooms. ‘As teachers we need to provide an education that will promote and improve learner outcomes, both in the classroom and in their individual societal contexts.  In order to effectively achieve these outcomes, it is crucial that as teachers we engage in lifelong teacher learning as it exposes us to new knowledge in our field.’ 

Her research, titled: “Aspiring For Quality School Education: Confounding Factors In Achieving High Learner Performance”, focused on understanding the persistency of poor learner performance while identifying and exploring factors within learners’ personal and social contexts and the consequent effect on their academic performance. 

According to Desai, the South African Education Department has increased spending on education to conduct numerous interventions in an effort to improve the academic performance of learners.  ‘Despite these interventions learners’ performance in South Africa is alarmingly poor and below normal literacy and numeracy levels.’ 

Desai, who teaches at an ex-Model C school in an urban area, noticed that a significant number of learners in the school perform poorly.  ‘At this school learners have access to a wide variety of school resources and moreover qualified and well-trained teachers are employed. Quality education is maintained at the school by control measures that are put in place for teacher evaluation and improvement.’ 

Her research findings are primarily directed at fellow teachers. ‘It is important for teachers to understand the contexts of our learners and how it ultimately affects their learning. Having this knowledge allows the teacher to adjust their teaching methods in accordance with the needs of the learner, thereby creating a meaningful and nurturing teaching and learning environment,’ said Desai. 

Her findings reveal that learners who maintain a positive attitude towards their learning attain academic success. Learners who have household responsibilities are often unable to allocate sufficient time to their studies which negatively affects their performance. 

‘Parents often expect more than what the learners are able to attain academically. This pressurises and places a strain on the learner which affects their performance negatively,’ said Desai. 

She thanked her parents, family, friends and supervisor for their support and encouragement. ‘My achievements would not have been possible without their support and more importantly their prayers for my success.’ 

Her parents, Abdurahman and Naseema Desai, added: ‘Our children are our pride and joy. Faathima’s hard work, dedication, passion and perseverance have earned her the achievement of graduating summa cum laude. Congratulations Faathima, you make us proud.’

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Masters Graduate Examines Primary School Teachers’ Perceptions and Management of Bullying

Masters Graduate Examines Primary School Teachers’ Perceptions and Management of Bullying
Ms Sinenhlanhla Mbambo who graduated with a summa cum laude Master’s degree in Education.

Teachers’ perceptions and management regarding bullying in a primary school in KwaMashu, Durban, were explored by Ms Sinenhlanhla Mbambo during research for her Master’s degree in Education which she achieved summa cum laude. 

While involved in her studies, Mbambo’s mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. ‘I lost her to the disease. I am her only daughter and was very close to her so I struggled with depression which had a negative effect on my work performance. 

‘Primary school teachers’ perceptions on bullying and their ability to manage the problem are still limited within the South African context,’ said Mbambo. ‘I personally encountered a number of physical and verbal learner-on-learner bullying incidents in the school and each time I was uncertain how to manage the situation professionally,’ she said. 

‘I ended up using my own tacit knowledge in managing things. I was interested to find out how other teachers managed bullying and how effective their efforts were in so doing as teachers are regarded as agents of change,’ said Mbambo. 

She found the teachers’ management strategies were fragmented and self-coordinated, while certain barriers hindered the management process of bullying. 

Mbambo believes her study may be useful in developing teachers’ understanding of the issue and would strengthen their management skills in handling bullying in their schools. ‘In turn, this might help provide quality education for schoolchildren and create some level of hope for victims of bullying. 

‘The Department of Education may see the need and offer support required by in-service teachers to manage bullying effectively in their schools. Teacher training institutions may also gain insights on the pre-service teacher training curriculum in terms of equipping them with effective procedures to manage bullying once they are qualified,’ said Mbambo. 

Said supervisor Dr Fumane Khanare: ‘Mbambo is my first summa cum laude student! Last year, I had a student who graduated cum laude and became instrumental in the success of Mbambo and other students as she shared her experiences. From her successes and challenges, Mbambo learned a lot and together we aimed higher. My role is to unleash the potential of students.’ 

Mbambo, who has enrolled for a PhD at UKZN, had this advice for other students: ‘Nothing is impossible if you are focused. Develop a great working relationship with your supervisors. Be organised, have a work plan and stick to it.’ 

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Violence in Primary Schools Researched by Masters Graduate

Violence in Primary Schools Researched by Masters Graduate
Ms Rabia Rizvi, who graduated cum laude from UKZN with a Master’s degree in Education.

Armed with steely determination and a passion for learning, Ms Rabia Rizvi focused her research on how violent masculinities occur at a primary school in Chatsworth, Durban. 

Rizvi’s work resulted in her being awarded a Master’s degree  in Education cum laude

‘I chose to study gender education with a focus on masculinity and violence because I was exposed to violence from a young age, both in my home and the community we lived in.’ 

Rizvi, the eldest of five sisters, says that during her studies she was under pressure to rather go out and work to support the family, while her parents were also keen for her to get married.

But she was determined to complete her degree and continued studying. 

‘The topic for my thesis allowed me to understand the link between violence and masculinity in a clearer way. It also allowed me to make peace with my own experiences.’ 

Her study explores how boys understand what it means to be masculine and how engaging in gender violence and homophobia play a big role in defining themselves as “real men”. 

‘South Africa is a highly violent society and this spills over into schools,’ said Rizvi. ‘Thus, it is deemed acceptable for a boy to engage in gender violence as a way of fitting into society. As a result, this continues the cycle of abuse and violence that plagues South Africa as well as contributing to widening the gender gap.’ 

The findings of her study show that violent masculinities are constructed and enacted at the school where she did the research.  Also revealed was that boys have different understandings of violence, some of which are very limited. 

Rizvi’s research further discovered that boys construct their violent masculinities through compulsory heterosexuality, the use of corporal punishment by teachers, violence in play, violent spaces, bullying, sexual violence, and verbal abuse. 

‘These elements play a critical role in ensuring that violent boys maintain power, dominance and hegemony over the rest of the learners. As a result, these elements serve to broaden gender inequalities between boys and girls as well as create a hierarchy of masculinity among the boys, whereby violent boys are dominant and the others subordinated,’ she said. 

Rizvi believes her study will help teachers to better understand the problem of gender violence at school and the need for measures to be put in place for it to be curbed. 

‘Schools should be safe spaces in which youngsters learn without feeling threatened. Teachers can also create platforms on which peaceful masculinities can be promoted in school that allow boys to express themselves in ways other than the use of violence.’ 

Rizvi thanked her sisters for their help and motivation and her supervisor, Professor Deevia Bhana, for her guidance and support. 

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Study on Gender-Based Violence and Access to Education Earns Teacher Master’s Degree

Study on Gender-Based Violence and Access to Education Earns Teacher Master’s Degree
Mr Siyanda Ngcobo who received his Master’s degree in Education.

Research for a Master’s Degree in Education examined how schoolgirls aged between 13 and 18 interpret the ways in which unequal power relations impact on their access to education, exposure to sexual violence in their schools and their social environment. 

The investigation was done by Mr Siyanda Ngcobo, who teacAhes at the Kwa-Mathanda High School in Umlazi.  Despite lacking basic computational skills and having little understanding of writing conventions and research, he prevailed and graduated saying, ‘I feel great. This is unbelievable.’ 

Ngcobo’s observation of learners’ changing behaviours and his interaction with them on various issues in school, developed his interest for this particular study. 

He explained: ‘In all reported cases of gender violence, girls in school came out as victims and this enabled me to ask myself a series of questions, such as: “Why are these young girls so vulnerable to multiple forms of abuse and no one does anything about it?” My teaching experience and paying attention to gender sensitive issues, provided me with the raw material that eventually produced my study.’ 

Ngcobo discovered that gender violence against girls was prevalent and there were little or no interventions to protect them in schools. Culture, families and communities were found to be a by-product of their vulnerability to gender violence because of a failure to intervene. He also identified that the schoolgirls had a clear understanding that all violence was gendered and embedded in gender inequalities. 

‘Their commitment to resist and challenge multiple forms of gender inequalities is meaningless without the presence of a gender equality policy as well as the involvement of parents and social services such as the police to provide support. The participants want to achieve change and justice against gender disparities and they did this by advocating for the protection of their dignity and sexual identity.’ 

Ngcobo, who plans to do his PhD, hopes his research will benefit society by empowering young girls and women to resist and challenge all forms of oppression as well as subverting the view points of the dominating groups in society. 

He thanked his family, friends and supervisor Professor Deevia Bhana for their support and encouragement. ‘To my family, your emphasis on the importance of education has finally paid off. You laid the foundations of this educational journey some years ago and I’m continuing where you left off. 

‘To my friends at work, thank you for your boundless support in our attempt to democratise our school. We need to continue with our pro-transformation and democratic discourse of challenging the outstanding totalitarianism and individualism for social change.’ 

His advice to other researchers is to work hard, remain committed and to have self-belief. 

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Family Medicine Specialist Graduates with Doctorate in Education

Family Medicine Specialist Graduates with Doctorate in Education
Dr Andrew Ross who graduated with a PhD in Education.

Recipient of the prestigious Order of Baobab (Silver Medal) and lecturer and Principal Specialist of Family Medicine, Dr Andrew Ross, has graduated with a PhD in Education from the College of Humanities

Ross’s research stemmed from the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation (UYDF) scholarship scheme which he founded in 1999.  The Foundation identifies, trains and supports youth in their quest to become qualified healthcare professionals and as a way of addressing staff shortages at rural hospitals. 

Thus, his research focuses on the experiences of rural youth, training to become health care professionals (HCPs) and returning to work in rural areas. He believes his research has the potential to impact on society ‘if we are committed to finding students who will be “change agents”.’ 

According to Ross, using a life history approach complemented by arts-based methods generated stories for his thesis which provided an understanding of the complex, multidimensional, multi-layered lives of HCPs, who grew up in rural areas, their personal lives in relation to others, and the context in which they grew up (time, person and place). 

‘Their developing identity is seen in their performances through the choices they make in response to everyday situations. Their learning experiences are complex and reveal that as active and critical thinkers they adopted a range of strategies to succeed at institutions of higher learning. 

‘They’ve found platforms and communities to develop as those with knowledge and agency to change/challenge dominant and stereotypical ways of being. The HCPs demonstrate their willingness and ability to work in rural contexts, leading transformation in the healthcare setting,’ explained Ross. 

The findings of his study point to a new understanding of rurality – that of home and a sense of belonging where the possibility for better healthcare services exists. 

A junctional hub is presented as a theoretical ‘model’ to frame lived experiences and to understand rural origin HCPs’ personal and professional identity and work in a complex, interconnected, negotiated space where different forces are negotiated. ‘This provides a platform to open up the opportunity for other ways of being, knowing and practising,’ said Ross. 

Some of the highlights of Ross’s research include hearing the stories of those who participated in his study and getting his article accepted for publication. ‘I found it really interesting looking at the data from different angles.’ 

Ross, who received funding from the Discovery Foundation for his research, further reflected on his PhD journey as one of a family commitment. ‘My family were very supportive and encouraging. My parents read and reread my articles and gave constructive feedback. Everyone was happy when the PhD was completed! To my family and friends, thanks – you are stars!’ 

His advice to other masters and PhD researchers is: ‘Find a topic that you are passionate about. Work to deadlines but do not be fixated on these time lines, recognising however that there must be a time line to finish your PhD. Find a good supervisor who you can work well with and accept that it will be a lot of work – but ultimately enjoy the journey.’ 

* South African President, Jacob Zuma bestowed the Order of Baobab – Silver on Ross, last year. National orders are the highest awards that the country, through its president, can bestow on its citizens or eminent foreigners for exceptional contribution and distinguished service that goes beyond the call of duty.

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Pedagogic Practices in Teaching Grade 1 Maths Under the Spotlight

Pedagogic Practices in Teaching Grade 1 Maths Under the Spotlight
Dr Blanche Ndlovu, a lecturer in the School of Education, graduates with a PhD in Education.

A lecturer in the School of EducationDr Blanche Ndlovu, graduated with a PhD in Education after completing research examining the understanding of teachers about their learning theories on pedagogic practices in teaching mathematical concepts in Grade 1. 

Her study emanates from the findings of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) Report and from research, indicating that there is a crisis in the area of teaching and learning mathematics in primary schools in South Africa. 

‘Mathematics teachers remain critical role players in ensuring quality teaching and learning as they are the curriculum implementers but they seem to lack the crucial support that underpins improved learner performance,’ said Ndlovu. 

‘Forming a solid and a broad mathematical foundation on mathematical concepts - such as numbers and operations, geometry and spatial sense, and measurement, with algebra and data analysis playing supporting roles - is one of the goals to unpack how teachers teach Mathematics to achieve their goals when teaching the subject,’ explained Ndlovu. 

She noted that it was evident from research that learners in Grade 1 found mathematical concepts challenging and thus many performed poorly. 

‘Even though primary school teachers understand officially sanctioned pedagogical practices for mathematics, such as learner-centeredness and collaborative learning, they were faced with multiple challenges in their efforts to implement their understating of pedagogical practices as there were challenges with the shortage of resources. 

‘Therefore, it is impossible for them to implement the rationale, aims and objectives in the content for mathematics teaching. Vigorous innovation on teachers understanding would keep them well-informed about pedagogic theories and content knowledge to enable them to attain the required level of knowledge and understanding of their practice,’ said Ndlovu. 

‘It is quite a milestone as I am the very first person in my family to get a Doctoral degree. I thank my whole family - including my sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews and grandchildren. I hope they will take the baton and run with it.’ 

She also dedicated her PhD to her late parents Mildred and Philip Radebe, and her late sisters, Ncane Radebe-Ntuli, Gladness Thembi Radebe-Sithole and Lynette Suzan Radebe. 

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Importance of Sport in Development of Young Boys Examined by Doctoral Graduate

Importance of Sport in Development of Young Boys Examined by Doctoral Graduate
Dr Barbara Bowley graduated with a PhD in Education.

‘Surreal, that’s what it feels like to graduate with a PhD. It has consumed so much of my life, I don’t quite know what to do now!’ said Dr Barbara Bowley, after graduating with a PhD in Education. 

Bowley, who has been teaching at an all-boys school for the past 20 years, produced a thesis on the influential role that sport plays in the social construction of young masculinities. 

Information and data for this study was generated from an 18-month-long participant observation as well as interviews with boys from the school. 

‘Boys are desperate when they arrive in year eight to create a name for themselves and to be accepted,’ said Bowley. ‘Sport is an area where they can create this identity for themselves and be accepted into the school. But boys soon learn that sport is also an area of great divide and an area for exclusion, rather than acceptance. 

‘During the complex construction of these masculine identities, the boys in this research, battle with issues of race, class and sexuality; all of which are intertwined in their construction.’ 

Bowley argues that there is a hierarchy of masculinities and a pecking order of power relations and those who do not meet the hegemonic (dominant) ideal are relegated to the position of subordinate “other”. 

According to Bowley, her research is particularly significant given the current changes in schooling in South Africa and the message that sport contributes to nation building. Her study regards sport as a positive influence in the lives of these young men, with her overall findings indicating that many boys’ masculinity was indeed boosted through the sport they played. 

Bowley was also part of a research group sponsored by the Dutch company Exactica to complete her proposal. The course involved meeting twice in the year to assist in writing a good proposal. ‘This was of enormous benefit as my proposal was drawn up within a year. Often this is a stumbling block for many students.’ 

Her advice to other researchers is to ‘set yourself goals – real, realistic goals and get them done. Discipline is the key and only word when doing work of this nature.’ 

Bowley described her doctoral journey as ‘a lonely and often soul – destroying one’. However, with the support and encouragement of family, friends, working with a PhD cluster and assistance from her supervisor, she graduated. ‘Words cannot express the gratitude I have. Their love was a quiet supporter and eternal motivator for me.’ 

What lies ahead now? ‘Certainly to write more. I have plans in my head but at the moment that is where they are stuck! I need to start putting pen to paper again.’ 

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Urban Black Youth Culture in Classrooms Examined

Urban Black Youth Culture in Classrooms Examined
Dr Lifeas Kapofu graduates with his PhD in Science Education.

‘Urban Black Youth Culture (UBYC)’ in the life sciences classrooms of a desegregated former Model C school was the subject of anthropological research done by Dr Lifeas Kapofu for his PhD in Science Education. 

‘This study stemmed from my personal experiences as a school teacher when my colleagues registered “problems” some Black learners faced and I was expected to explain the motivation for Black learner enactments,’ said Kapofu. 

This led to Kapofu exploring a new cultural phenomena called Urban Black Youth Culture that he feels is taking root in desegregated teaching and learning contexts. 

In the exploration of UBYC, his study helped explain the context in which the culture was created by Urban Black Youth (UBY); the nature of this created culture and how and why it, influenced the teaching and learning of life sciences. 

Key findings of Kapofu’s study included the identification of the culpability of the context as structured by players in the life sciences classrooms in the creation of UBYC. Such contextual shortcomings included classrooms in which culturally responsive pedagogy was not operationalised; classroom contexts which were falling short in addressing learners’ needs for autonomy, competency and connectedness, and operationalisation of power in ways that escalated classroom conflicts. 

The deciphering of UBY culture provided for the interrogation of how and why UBYC was influencing the teaching and learning of life sciences. Kapofu found that UBYC enabled UBY to trivialise life sciences as a Discipline, speak disparagingly about their teachers, disrupt classroom proceedings, and sometimes openly defy or aggressively engage with their life sciences teachers. 

‘UBYC enabled UBY to perform such enactments as it allowed them to feel superior, powerful, connected and competent. 

‘It is envisaged that the findings of this study will provide a lens for viewing contemporary classrooms. This perception is critical in deciphering and explaining phenomena that may be perceived as indiscipline and behavioural challenges,’ he explained. 

Kapofu’s study culminated with the development of a model for cultural studies in classroom settings. ‘Such a model will help teachers in multicultural classrooms explore culture, as cultural understandings and their harnessing for instruction is the ultimate challenge that comes with diversity.’ 

Kapofu says his model ‘can be adopted and applied to foster smoother inclusive negotiations in the cultural terrain in diverse contexts’. 

He thanked his family, friends and supervisors, Dr Angela James and Dr Michele Stears. 

Kapofu had this advice for other students: ‘Work hard. It is possible to complete your thesis with an excellent review, but it’s a game with a limited number of cheer leaders. It is also humbling to know that you are responsible for generating something as potent as new knowledge, the impact of which you cannot predict.’ 

Melissa Mungroo


author : .
author email : .

Graduate Follows in Footsteps of her Mother and Grandmother!

Graduate Follows in Footsteps of her Mother and Grandmother!
Ms Alma Charlotte van Belkum who graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Development.

Ms Alma Charlotte van Belkum, the daughter of UKZN’s Psychiatric Nursing lecturer, Ms Charlotte Engelbrecht, graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Development, making her the third generation in the family to graduate.

‘I feel very honoured and super excited about graduating,’ said van Belkum.

Her mother and grandmother were her greatest inspiration. ‘In a way, I’m definitely following in their footsteps as a woman brought up strong and gracefully who has been pressed to the edge by life but persevered through.

‘These last four years have been the most difficult time of my life.  Yet I made it thanks in many ways to the prayers of my mother and grandmother.  I followed their lead and just like them I made it despite the odds,’ said van Belkum.

Similar to her grandmother and mother, van Belkum’s main focus was on Psychology modules, ‘I deeply care for other people and community development.  I hope to one day have my own little school to help children who are underdeveloped.’

Van Belkum’s personal motto is to always look for the good in every situation, ‘Laughing is addictive - smile and you will brighten the world.’

‘Like my mom and gran, I am born a scholar and see every day as an opportunity to learn something new. They are both strong women who carried their families through life.  I grew up with both of them and my two siblings. Though things were hard as my mom worked nightshift throughout my childhood, I couldn’t have been happier.’

Engelbrecht’s mother was among the Nursing student groups that started with the degree course at the University of Pretoria under the renowned Professor Charlotte Searle.

Engelbrecht studied Bachelor of Nursing Science (B Cur) and completed her masters at the then Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and is currently doing her PhD at UKZN.

Nombuso Dlamini


author : .
author email : .

Drug Dealer Turns Over New Leaf and Triumphs

Drug Dealer Turns Over New Leaf and Triumphs
Former petty criminal now university graduate Mr Thulasizwe Mathenjwa with his sons, nine-year-old Wanele (left) and Uyanda (10).

After being shot and wounded during a drug-related incident seven years ago, Mr Thulasizwe Cedric Mathenjwa turned his life around and has graduated from UKZN with a Social Science degree. 

Mathenjwa, who sustained severe injuries leaving him partially paralysed, said the incident motivated him to start life afresh and work towards becoming a respectable citizen.

He spent 15 months recovering in hospital and when he was discharged he applied to study at UKZN. 

‘After I finished my matric I was hustling, I got involved with drugs and with crime. My sons were toddlers when I was shot. I decided then that I was going to change my life and be a better person for them.’ 

Mathenjwa, who completed his degree with majors in Geography and Environmental Management, said he is passionate about the environment and politics and hopes to enter a career in those fields. 

 ‘It has been very challenging to get to this point. Because of the paralysis I suffered from the shooting, I have had to complete oral examinations and that was not easy. Essays are very long and it is draining to speak for all that time’ 

He said he is very happy to have graduated and to have shared the moment with his two sons, Uyanda and Wanele.

Sejal Desai


author : .
author email : .

Graduates with Disabilities Excel Against all Odds

Graduates with Disabilities Excel Against all Odds
From left: Mr Thulasizwe Mathenjwa, Ms Thandeka Hlongwa, Mr Lance Ross and Mr Nkosenhle Duma recently graduated from UKZN.

Four students with disabilities have graduated with Social Science degrees from UKZN. 

Mr Lance Ross, a cancer survivor who became blind at the age of three, graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science Honours degree in Industrial Organisational Labour Studies. 

Ross said he is excited about his huge accomplishment and wants to work with trade unions in the future. 

Mr Nkosenhle Duma was diagnosed with glaucoma soon after he matriculated and his eyesight rapidly deteriorated due to the condition. In spite of his disability, Duma adapted to his blindness and graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science degree, majoring in Industrial Organisational Labour Studies. 

Duma explained that his affliction made things difficult but he was able to overcome challenges thanks to support from his parents. ‘I am so excited to have graduated', he said. 

Wheelchair-bound Ms Thandeka Hlongwa, who suffered juvenile arthritis from the age of nine, graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science degree majoring in Management and Politics. 

Hlongwa has always wanted to get a tertiary qualification that would allow her to work as a professional and in a space able to accommodate the disabled. 

Mr Thulasizwe Mathenjwa, who suffered paralysis from the neck down after he was shot in a drug related incident seven years ago, says the incident motivated him to turn away from crime and live an honest  life. 

Mathenjwa graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science degree majoring in Geography and Environmental Management. He said he is passionate about the environment and politics and wants to follow a career in those fields. 

Sejal Desai 


author : .
author email : .